This site focuses on Madame Blavatsky and her teaching - Theosophy. It features an introduction to Theosophy,              study aids, research tools, original text, supporting evidence, membership, and visitor interaction.


From H.P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II.


Articles by HPB

[A letter was recently received by the Editor from one of our most eminent Australasian Fellows, asking some questions in science of such importance that the replies are, with permission, copied for the edification of our readers. The writer is a Chela who has a certain familiarity with the terminology of Western science. If we mistake not this is the first time that the rationale of the control exercised by an Adept Occultist over the relations of atoms, and of the phenomena of the "passage of matter through matter," has been so succinctly and yet clearly explained.--Ed., Theosophist.]


(1) The Phenomenon of "osmosing" (extracting. Ed.) your note from the sealed envelope in which it was sewn with thread, and substituting for it his own reply, without breaking either seal or thread, is to be considered first. It is one of those complete proofs of the superior familiarity with and control over atomic relations among our Eastern Adepts as compared with modern Western men of science, to which custom has made me familiar. It was the same power as that employed in the formation of the letter in the air of your room at __________ ; in the case of many other air-born letters; of showers of roses; of the gold ring which leaped from the heart of a moss-rose while held in _________'s hand; of a sapphire ring doubled for a lady of high position here, a short time ago, and of other examples. The solution is found in the fact that the "attraction of cohesion" is a manifestation of the Universal Divine Force, and can be interrupted and again set up as regards any given group of atoms in the relation of substance by the same Divine power as that localised in the human monad. Atma, the eternal spiritual principle in man, has the same quality of power over brute force as has the Universal Principle of which it is a part. Adeptship is but the crown of spiritual self-evolution, and the powers of spirit develop themselves successively in the ratio of the aspirant's progress upward, morally and spiritually. This you see is to place our modern Evolution Theory upon a truly noble basis, and to give it the character of a lofty spiritual, instead of a debasing materialistic, philosophy. I have always felt sure of the warm approval of the most intuitional of your Western men of science when they should come to take this view of our Aryan Arhat Science.

You should not find much difficulty in drawing the line between the "Spook" and the "Adept." The latter is a living man often fit to stand as the grandest ideal of human perfectibility; the former is but undissolved congeries of atoms recently associated in a living person as his lower--or better, his coarser, and more materialistic--corporeal envelopes; which during life were confined in the outermost shell, the body, and after death released to linger for a while in the astral (Etheric or Akasic) strata nearest the earth's surface. The law of magneto-vital affinities explains the attraction of these "shells" to places and persons; and if you can postulate to yourself a scale of psychic specific gravity, you may realise how the greater density of a "soul" weighted with the matter of base (or even unspiritua, yet not animal) feelings would tend to impede its rising to the clear realm of spiritual existence. Though I am conscious of the imperfection of my scientific exegesis, I feel that your superior capacity for apprehending natural laws, when a hint has been given, will fill all lacunæ.

Note that no Adept even can disintegrate and reform any organism above the stage of vegetable: the Universal Manas has in the animal begun and in man completed its differentiation into individual entities: in the vegetable it is still an undifferentiated universal spirit, informing the whole mass of atoms which have progressed beyond the inert mineral stage, and are preparing to differentiate. There is movement even in the mineral, but it is rather the imperceptible quiver of that Life of life, than its active manifestation in the production of form--a ramification which attains its maximum not, as you may suppose, in the stage of physical man, but in the higher one of the Dhyan Chohans, or Planetary Spirits, i.e., once human beings who have run through the scale of evolution, but are not yet reunited, or coalesced with Parabrahma, the Universal Principle.

Before closing, a word more about the "passage of matter through matter." Matter may be defined as condensed Akasa (Ether); and in atomizing, differentiates, as the watery particles differentiate from superheated steam when condensed. Restore the differentiated matter to the state ante of undifferentiated matter, and there is no difficulty in seeing how it can pass through the interstices of a substance in the differentiated state, as we easily conceive of the travel of electricity and other forces through their conductors. The profound art is to be able to interrupt at will and again restore the atomic relations in a given substance: to pull the atoms so far apart as to make them invisible, and yet hold them in polaric suspense, or within the attractive radius, so as to make them rush back into their former cohesive affinities, and re-compose the substance. And since we have had a thousand proofs that this knowledge and power is possessed by our Adept Occultists, who can blame us for regarding as we do those Adepts as the proper masters in science of the cleverest of our modern authorities? And then, as I above remarked, the outcome of this Philosophy of the Aryan Sages is to enable humanity to refresh the moral and awaken the spiritual nature of man, and to erect standards of happiness higher and better than those by which we now govern ourselves.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, October, 1883


From H. P. Blavatsky Theosophical Articles, Vol. II


Articles by HPB

CHRISTINA ROSSETTI's well-known lines:

Does the road wind up-hill all the way?

Yes, to the very end.

Does the journey take the whole long day?

From morn to night, my friend.

are like an epitome of the life of those who are truly treading the path which leads to higher things. Whatever differences are to be found in the various presentations of the Esoteric Doctrine, as in every age it donned a fresh garment, different both in hue and texture to that which preceded; yet in every one of them we find the fullest agreement upon one point--the road to spiritual development. One only inflexible rule has been ever binding upon the neophyte, as it is binding now--the complete subjugation of the lower nature by the higher. From the Vedas and Upanishads to the recently published Light on the Path, search as we may through the bibles of every race and cult, we find but one only way,--hard, painful, troublesome, by which men can gain the true spiritual insight. And how can it be otherwise, since all religions and all philosophies are but the variants of the first teachings of the One Wisdom, imparted to men at the beginning of the cycle by the Planetary Spirit?

The true Adept, the developed man, must, we are always told, become--he cannot be made. The process is therefore one of growth through evolution, and this must necessarily involve a certain amount of pain.

The main cause of pain lies in our perpetually seeking the permanent in the impermanent, and not only seeking, but acting as if we had already found the unchangeable in a world of which the one certain quality we can predicate is constant change; and always, just as we fancy we have taken a firm hold upon the permanent, it changes within our very grasp, and pain results.

Again, the idea of growth involves also the idea of disruption: the inner being must continually burst through its confining shell or encasement, and such a disruption must also be accompanied by pain, not physical but mental and intellectual.

And this is how it is, in the course of our lives. The trouble that comes upon us is always just the one we feel to be the hardest that could possibly happen--it is always the one thing we feel we cannot possibly bear. If we look at it from a wider point of view, we shall see that we are trying to burst through our shell at its one vulnerable point; that our growth, to be real growth, and not the collective result of a series of excrescence, must progress evenly throughout, just as the body of a child grows, not first the head and then a hand, followed perhaps by a leg, but in all directions at once, regularly and imperceptibly. Man's tendency is to cultivate each part separately, neglecting the others in the meantime--every crushing pain is caused by the expansion of some neglected part, which expansion is rendered more difficult by the effects of the cultivation bestowed elsewhere.

Evil is often the result of over-anxiety, and men are always trying to do too much, they are not content to leave well alone, to do always just what the occasion demands and no more; they exaggerate every action and so produce karma to be worked out in a future birth.

One of the subtlest forms of this evil is the hope and desire of reward. Many there are who, albeit often unconsciously, are yet spoiling all their efforts by entertaining this idea of reward, and allowing it to become an active factor in their lives, and so leaving the door open to anxiety, doubt, fear, despondency--failure.

The goal of the aspirant for spiritual wisdom is entrance upon a higher plane of existence; he is to become a new man, more perfect in every way than he is at present, and if he succeeds, his capabilities and faculties will receive a corresponding increase of range and power, just as in the visible world we find that each stage in the evolutionary scale is marked by increase of capacity. This is how it is that the Adept becomes endowed with marvellous powers that have been so often described, but the main point to be remembered is, that these powers are the natural accompaniments of existence on a higher plane of evolution, just as the ordinary human faculties are the natural accompaniments of existence on the ordinary human plane.

Many persons seem to think that adeptship is not so much the result of radical development as of additional construction; they seem to imagine that an Adept is a man, who, by going through a certain plainly defined course of training, consisting of minute attention to a set of arbitrary rules, acquires first one power and then another; and, when he has attained a certain number of these powers is forthwith dubbed an adept. Acting on this mistaken idea, they fancy that the first thing to be done towards attaining adeptship is to acquire "powers"--clairvoyance and the power of leaving the physical body and travelling to a distance are among those which fascinate the most.

To those who wish to acquire such powers for their own private advantage, we have nothing to say; they fall under the condemnation of all who act for purely selfish ends. But there are others, who, mistaking effect for cause, honestly think that the acquirement of abnormal powers is the only road to spiritual advancement. These look upon our Society as merely the readiest means to enable them to gain knowledge in this direction, considering it as a sort of occult academy, an institution established to afford facilities for the instruction of would-be miracle-workers. In spite of repeated protests and warnings, there are some minds in whom this notion seems ineradicably fixed, and they are loud in their expressions of disappointment when they find that what had been previously told them is perfectly true; that the Society was founded to teach no new and easy paths to the acquisition of "powers"; and that its only mission is to rekindle the torch of truth, so long extinguished for all but the very few, and to keep that truth alive by the formation of a fraternal union of mankind, the only soil in which the good seed can grow. The Theosophical Society does indeed desire to promote the spiritual growth of every individual who comes within its influence, but its methods are those of the ancient Rishis, its tenets those of the oldest Esotericism; it is no dispenser of patent nostrums composed of violent remedies which no honest dealer would dare to use.

In this connection we would warn all our members, and others who are seeking spiritual knowledge, to beware of persons offering to teach them easy methods of acquiring psychic gifts; such gifts (laukika) are indeed comparatively easy of acquirement by artificial means, but fade out as soon as the nerve-stimulus exhausts itself. The real seership and adeptship which is accompanied by true psychic development (lokothra), once reached, is never lost.

It appears that various societies have sprung into existence since the foundation of the Theosophical Society, profiting by the interest the latter has awakened in matters of psychic research, and endeavouring to gain members by promising them easy acquirement of psychic powers. In India we have long been familiar with the existence of hosts of sham ascetics of all descriptions, and we fear that there is fresh danger in this direction, here, as well as in Europe and America. We only hope that none of our members, dazzled by brilliant promises, will allow themselves to be taken in by self-deluded dreamers, or, it may be, wilful deceivers.

To show that some real necessity exists for our protests and warnings, we may mention that we have recently seen, enclosed in a letter from Benares, copies of an advertisement put forth by a so-called "Mahatma." He calls for "eight men and women who know English and any of the Indian vernaculars well"; and concludes by saying that "those who want to know particulars of the work and the amount of pay" should apply to his address, with enclosed postage stamps! Upon the table before us lies a reprint of "The Divine Pymander," published in England last year, and which contains a notice to "Theosophists who may have been disappointed in their expectations of Sublime Wisdom being freely dispensed by HINDOO MAHATMAS"; cordially inviting them to send in their names to the Editor, who will see them, "after a short probation," admitted into an Occult Brotherhood who "teach freely and WITHOUT RESERVE all they find worthy to receive." Strangely enough, we find in the very volume in question Hermes Trismegistus saying:

"Herein is the only way which leads to Truth, which, indeed, our ancestors trod, and by which they arrived at the attainment of the Good. This way is beautiful and even; nevertheless, it is difficult for the soul to walk therein so long as she is immured within the prison of the body. . . . Therefore, abstain from the crowd, so that by means of ignorance the vulgar may be kept within bounds, even through fear of the unknown."

It is perfectly true that some Theosophists have been (through nobody's fault but their own) greatly disappointed because we have offered them no short cut to Yoga Vidya, and there are others who wish for practical work. And, significantly enough, those who have done least for the Society are loudest in fault-finding. Now, why do not these persons and all our members who are able to do so, take up the serious study of mesmerism? Mesmerism has been called the Key to the Occult Sciences, and it has this advantage that it offers peculiar opportunities for doing good to mankind. If in each of our branches we were able to establish a homeopathic dispensary with the addition of mesmeric healing, such as has already been done with great success in Bombay, we might contribute towards putting the science of medicine in this country on a sounder basis, and be the means of incalculable benefit to the people at large.

There are others of our branches, besides the one at Bombay, that have done good work in this direction, but there is room for infinitely more to be done than has yet been attempted. And the same is the case in the various other departments of the Society's work. It would be a good thing if the members of each branch would put their heads together and seriously consult as to what tangible steps they can take to further the declared objects of the Society. In too many cases the members of the Theosophical Society content themselves with a somewhat superficial study of its books, without making any real contribution to its active work. If the Society is to be a power for good in this and other lands, it can only bring about this result by the active cooperation of every one of its members, and we would earnestly appeal to each of them to consider carefully what possibilities of work are within his power, and then to earnestly set about carrying them into effect. Right thought is a good thing, but thought alone does not count for much unless it is translated into action. There is not a single member in the Society who is not able to do something to aid the cause of truth and universal brotherhood; it only depends on his own will, to make that something an accomplished fact.

Above all we would reiterate the fact that the Society is no nursery for incipient adepts; teachers cannot be provided to go round and give instruction to various branches on the different subjects which come within the Society's work of investigation; the branches must study for themselves; books are to be had, and the knowledge there put forth must be practically applied by the various members: thus will be developed self-reliance and reasoning powers. We urge this strongly; for appeals have reached us that any lecturer sent to branches must be practically versed in experimental psychology and clairvoyance (i.e., looking into magic mirrors and reading the future, etc., etc.). Now we consider that such experiments should originate amongst members themselves to be of any value in the development of the individual or to enable him to make progress in his "uphill" path, and therefore earnestly recommend our members to try for themselves.

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophist, May, 1885


From "A Modern Panarion"


Articles by HPB

[From The Spiritual Scientist, Jan. 6th, 1876.]

DEAR SIR,—For the last three months one has hardly been able to open a number of The Banner, or the other papers, without finding one or more proofs of the fecundity of the human imagination in the condition of hallucination. The Spiritualist camp is in an uproar, and the clans are gathering to fight imaginary foes. The tocsin is sounded; danger signals shoot, like flaming rockets, across the hitherto serene sky, and warning cries are uttered by vigilant sentries posted at the four corners of the "angel-girt world." The reverberations of this din resound even in the daily press. One would think that the Day of Judgment had come for American Spiritualism.

Why all this disturbance? Simply because two humble individuals have spoken a few wholesome truths. If the grand beast of the Apocalypse with its seven heads and the word "Blasphemy" written upon each, had appeared in heaven, there would hardly have been seen so much commotion there, as this; and there seems to be a concerted effort to cast out Col. Olcott and myself (coupled like a pair of Hermetic Siamese twins) as ominous to the superstitious as a comet with a fiery tail, and the precursor of war, plagues and other calamities. They seem to think that if they do not crush us, we will destroy Spiritualism.

I have no time to waste, and what I now write is not intended for the benefit of such persons as these—whose soap-bubbles, however pretty, are sure to burst of themselves—but to set myself right with many most estimable Spiritualists for whom I feel a sincere regard.

If the spiritual press of America were conducted upon a principle of doing even justice to all, I would send your contemporaries copies of this letter, but their course in the past has made me—whether rightly or not—feel as if no redress could be had outside of your columns. I shall be only too glad if their treatment, in this case, gives me cause to change my opinion that they, and their slandering theorists, are inspired by the biblical devils who left Mary Magdalene and returned to the land of the "Sweet Bye-and-Bye."

To begin, I wish to unhook my name from that of Col. Olcott, if you please, and declare that, as he is not responsible for my views or actions, neither am I for his. He is bold enough and strong enough to defend himself under all circumstances, and has never allowed his adversaries to strike without knocking out two teeth to their one. If our views on Spiritualism are in some degree identical, and our work in the Theosophical Society pursued in common, we are, notwithstanding, two very distinct entities and mean to remain such. I highly esteem Col. Olcott, as everyone does who knows him. He is a gentleman; but what is more in my eyes, he is an honest and true man, and an unselfish Spiritualist, in the proper sense of that word. If he now sees Spiritualism in another light than orthodox Spiritualists would prefer, they themselves are only to blame. He strikes at the rotten places of their philosophy, and they do all they can to cover up the ulcers instead of trying to cure them. He is one of the truest and most unselfish friends that the cause has to-day in America, and yet he is treated with an intolerance that could hardly be expected of anybody above the level of the rabid Moodys and Sankeys. Surely, facts speak for themselves; and a faith so pure, angelic and unadulterated as American Spiritualism is claimed to be, can have nothing to fear from heresiarchs. A house built on the rock stands unshaken by any storm. If the New Lutheran Church can prove all its "controls, guides and visitors from behind the shining river" to be disembodied spirits, why all this row? That's just where the trouble lies; they cannot prove it. They have tasted these fruits of Paradise, and while finding some of them sweet and refreshing because gathered and brought by real angel friends, so many others have proved sour and rotten at the core, that to escape an incurable dyspepsia, many of the best and most sincere Spiritualists have left the communion without asking for a letter of dismissal.

This is not Spiritualism; it is, as I say, a New Lutheran Church, and really, though the late oracle of The Banner of Light was evidently a pure and true woman—for the breath of calumny, this raging demon of America, has never been able to soil her reputation—and though certainly she was a wonderful medium, still I don't see why a Spiritualist should be ostracized, only because after having given up St. Paul, he or she does not strictly adhere to the doctrines of St. Conant.

The last number of The Banner contained a letter from a Mr. Saxon, criticizing some expressions in a recent letter of Col. Olcott to the New York Sun, in defence of the Eddys. The only part which concerned me is this:

Surely some magician, with his or her Kabalistic "Presto! Change!" has worked sudden and singular revolutions in the mind of this disciple of Occultism, this gentleman who "is" and "is not" a Spiritualist.

As I am the only Kabalist in America, I cannot be mistaken as to the author's meaning; so I cheerfully pick up the glove. While I am not responsible for the changes in the barometer of Col. Olcott's spirituality (which I notice usually presage a storm), I am for the following facts: Since I left Chittenden, I have constantly and fearlessly maintained against everyone, beginning with Dr. Beard, that their apparitions are genuine and powerful. Whether they are "spirits of hell or goblins damned" is a question quite separate from that of their mediumship. Col. Olcott will not deny that when we met at Chittenden for the first time, and afterwards—and that more than once—when he expressed suspicions about the genuineness of Mayflower and George Dix, the spirits of Horatio's dark séances, I insisted that, so far as I could judge, they were genuine phenomena. He will also no doubt admit, since he is an eminently truthful man, that when the ungrateful behaviour of the Eddys—toward whom every visitor at the homestead will testify that he was kinder than a brother—had made him ready to express his indignation, I interfered on their behalf, and begged that he would never confound mediums with other people as to their responsibility. Mediums have tried to shake my opinions of the Eddy boys, offering in two cases that I can recall to go to Chittenden with me and expose the fraud. I acted the same with them that I did with the Colonel. Mediums have tried likewise to convince me that Mr. Crookes' Katie King was but Miss F. Cooke walking about, while a wax bust, fabricated in her likeness and covered with her clothes, lay in the cabinet representing her as entranced. Other mediums, regarding me as a fanatical Spiritualist, who would even be ready to connive at fraud rather than see the cause hurt by an exposure, have let, or pretended to let, me into the secrets of the mediumship of their fellow mediums, and sometimes incautiously into their own.

My experience shows that the worst enemies of mediums are mediums. Not content with slandering each other, they assail and traduce their warmest and most unselfish friends.

Whatever objection anyone may have to me on account of country, religion, occult study, rudeness of speech, cigarette-smoking, or any other peculiarity, my record in connection with Spiritualism for long years does not show me as making money by it, or gaining any other advantage, direct or indirect. On the contrary, those who have met me in all parts of the world (which I have circumnavigated three times), will testify that I have given thousands of dollars, imperilled my life, defied the Catholic Church—where it required more courage to do so than the Spiritualists seem to show about encountering elementaries—and in camp and court, on the sea, in the desert, in civilized and savage countries, I have been from first to last the friend and champion of mediums. I have done more. I have often taken the last dollar out of my pocket, and even necessary clothes off my back, to relieve their necessities.

And how do you think I have been rewarded? By honours, emoluments, and social position? Have I charged a fee for imparting to the public or individuals what little knowledge I have gathered in my travels and studies? Let those who have patronized our principal mediums answer.

I have been slandered in the most shameful way, and the most unblushing lies circulated about my character and antecedents by the very mediums whom I have been defending at the risk of being taken for their confederate, when their tricks have been detected. What has happened in American cities is no worse nor different from what has befallen me in Europe, Asia and Africa. I have been injured temporarily in the eyes of good and pure men and women by the libels of mediums whom I never saw, and who never were in the same city with me at the same time; of mediums who made me the heroine of shameful histories whose action was alleged to have occurred when I was in another part of the world, far away from the face of a white man. Ingratitude and injustice have been my portion since I had first to do with spiritual mediums. I have met here with a few exceptions, but very, very few.

Now, what do you suppose has sustained me throughout? Do you imagine that I could not see the disgusting frauds mixed up with the most divine genuine manifestations? Could I, having nothing to gain in money, power or any other consideration, have been content to pass through all these dangers, suffer all this abuse, and receive all these injurious insults, if I saw nothing in Spiritualism but what these critics of Col. Olcott and myself can see? Would the prospect of an eternity, passed in the angel-girt world, in company with unwashed Indian guides and military controls, with Aunt Sallies and Prof. Websters, have been inducement enough? No; I would prefer annihilation to such a prospect. It was because I knew that through the same golden gates which swung open to admit the elementary and those unprogressed human spirits who are worse, if anything, than they, have often passed the real and purified forms of the departed and blessed ones. Because, knowing the nature of these spirits and the laws of mediumistic control, I have never been willing to hold my calumniators responsible for the great evil they did, when they were often simply the unfortunate victims of obsession by unprogressed spirits. Who can blame me for not wishing to associate with or receive instruction from spirits who, if not far worse, were no better nor wiser than I? Is a man entitled to respect and veneration simply because his body is rotting under ground, like that of a dog? To me the grand object of my life was attained and the immortality of our spirit demonstrated. Why should I turn necromancer and evoke the dead, who could neither teach me nor make me better than I was? It is a more dangerous thing to play with the mysteries of life and death than most Spiritualists imagine.

Let them thank God for the great proof of immortality afforded them in this century of unbelief and materialism; and, if divine Providence has put them on the right path, let them pursue it by all means, but not stop to pass their time in dangerous talk indiscriminately with every one from the other side. The land of spirits, the Summer Land, as they call it here, is a terra incognita [Translation: unkown world -BNet] ; no believer will deny it; it is vastly more unknown to every Spiritualist, as regards its various inhabitants, than a trackless virgin forest of Central Africa. And who can blame the pioneer settler if he hesitates to open his door to a knock, before assuring himself whether the visitor be man or beast?

Thus, just because of all that I have said above I proclaim myself a true Spiritualist, because my belief is built upon a firm ground, and that no exposure of mediums, no social scandal affecting them or others, no materialistic deductions of exact science, or sneers and denunciations of scientists, can shake it. The truth is coming slowly to light and I shall do my best to hasten its advent. I will breast the current of popular prejudice and ignorance. I am prepared to endure slander, foul insinuations and insult in the future as I have in the past. Already one spiritual editor, to most effectually demonstrate his spirituality, has called me a witch. I have survived, and hope to do so if two or two-score more should do the same; but whether I ride the air to attend my Sabbath or not, one thing is certain: I will not ruin myself to buy broomsticks upon which to chase after every lie set afloat by editors or mediums.



From "A Modern Panarion"


Articles by HPB

[Vol. III. No. 5, February, 1882.]

The Spiritualist of Nov. 18th takes notice of the article published in The Theosophist for October under the heading "Fragments of Occult Truth," but it does not quite appreciate the objects with which that article was put forward, and still less the importance of its contents. To make further explanations intelligible to our own readers, however, we must first represent The Spiritualist's present remarks, which, under the heading of "Speculation-Spinning," are as follows:

The much-respected author of the best standard text-book on Chemistry in the English language, the late Prof. W. Allen Miller, in the course of a lecture at the Royal Institution, set forth certain facts, but expressed an objection to make known a speculative hypothesis which apparently explained the causes of the facts. He said that tempting but inadequately proved hypotheses, when once implanted in the mind, were most difficult to eradicate; they sometimes stood in the way of the discovery of truth, they often promoted experiments in a wrong direction, and were better out of the heads than in the heads of young students of science.

The man who prosecutes original research must have some speculation in his head as he tries each new experiment. Such experiments are questions put to Nature, and her replies commonly dash to the ground one such speculation after another, but gradually guide the investigator into the true path, and reveal the previously unknown law, which can thenceforth be safely used in the service of mankind for all time.

Very different is the method of procedure among some classes of psychologists. With them a tempting and plausible hypothesis enters the mind, but instead of considering it to be mischievous to propagate it as possessing authority before it is verified, it is thought clever to do so; the necessity for facts and proof is ignored, and it may be that a church or school of thought is set up, which people are requested to join in order that they may fight for the new dogma. Thus unproved speculations are forced upon the world with trumpet tongues by one class of people, instead of being tested, and, in most cases, nipped in the bud, according to the method of the man of science. * [Footnote *.  We do not want to be cruel, but where can one find "unproved speculations" more unproved, or that would be "nipped in the bud" by "the man of science" with a more ready hand than those that are weekly expressed in The Spiritualist?]

The religious periodicals of the day abound with articles consisting of nothing but speculations advanced by the authors as truths and as things to be upheld and fought over. Rarely is the modest statement made, "This may explain some points which are perplexing us, but until the verity of the hypothesis has been firmly demonstrated by facts, you must be careful not to let it rest in your mind as truth." By "facts" we do not necessarily mean physical facts, for there are demonstrable truths outside the realm of physics.

The foregoing ideas have often occurred to us while reading the pages of The Theosophist, and have been revived by an interesting editorial article in the last number of that journal, in which the nature of the body and spirit of man is definitely mapped out in seven clauses.+  [Footnote +. The Theosophist pp. 18, 19, October, 1881. ] There is not one word of attempt at proof, and the assertions can only carry weight with those who derive their opinions from the authoritative allegations of others, instead of upon evidence which they have weighed and examined for themselves; and the remarkable point is that the writer shows no signs of consciousness that any evidence is necessary. Had the scientific method been adopted, certain facts or truths would have been made to precede each of the seven clauses, coupled with the claim that those truths demonstrated the assertions in the clauses, and negatived all hypotheses at variance therewith.

Endless speculation-spinning is a kind of mental dissipation, which does little good to the world or to the individuals who indulge therein, and has sometimes had in Europe a slight tendency to impart to the latter signs of Pharisaical self-consciousness of their being advanced religionists and philosophers, living in a diviner air than those who work to base their opinions on well-verified truths. If the speculators recognized their responsibility and imitated the example set them by the great and good Prof. Allen Miller, nine-tenths of their time would be set at liberty for doing good work in the world, the wasting of oceans of printing ink would be avoided, and mental energy which might be devoted to high uses would no longer run to waste. The minds of habitual dreamers and speculators may be compared to windmills incessantly at work grinding nothing.‡ [Footnote ‡.  Verily so. For over thirty years have the dreamers and speculators upon the rationale of "spiritual" phenomena set their windmills to work night and day, and yet, hitherto, mortals and helping "spirits" have ground out for the world but -husks. ]

Just at present there is far too much mental speculation afloat, and far too few people putting good ideas into practical form. Here in London, within the past year, grievous iniquities which might have been prevented, and grievous wrongs which might have been redressed, have abounded, and too few people have been at work ameliorating the sorrows and the sins immediately around them.

Now we do not want to discuss these questions with The Spiritualist in the way that rival religious sects might debate their differences. There can be no sectarianism in truth-seeking, and when we regard the spiritualists as seriously mistaken in many of the most important of the conclusions to which they have come, they must certainly be recognized as truth-seekers like ourselves. As a body, indeed, they are entitled to all possible honour for having boldly pursued their experiences to unpopular conclusions, caring more for what presented itself to them as the truth than for the good opinion of society at large. The world laughed at them for thinking their communications something beyond fraudulent tricks of impostors, for regarding the apparitions of their cabinets as visitors from another world. They knew quite well that the communications in a multitude of cases were no more frauds than they were baked potatoes, that people who called them such were talking utter folly, and in the same way that whatever the materialized "spirits" were, they were not in anything like all cases, even if they might be in some, the pillows and nightgowns of a medium's assistant. So they held on gallantly, and reaped a reward which more than compensated them for the silly success of ignorant outsiders, in the consciousness of being in contact with superhuman phenomena, and in the excitement of original exploration. Nothing that has ever been experienced in connection with such excitement by early navigators in unknown seas, can even have been comparable to the solemn interest which spiritual enquirers (of the cultivated kind) must have felt at first as they pushed off, in the frail canoe of mediumship, out into the ocean of the unknown world. And if they had realized all its perils one might almost applaud the courage with which they set sail, as warmly as their indifference to ridicule. But the heretics of one age sometimes become the orthodox of the next, and, so apt is human nature to repeat its mistakes, that the heirs of the martyrs may sometimes develop into the persecutors of a new generation. This is the direction in which modern spiritualism is tending, and that tendency, of all its characteristics, is the one we are chiefly concerned to protest against. The conclusions of spiritualism, inaccurate and premature as they are, are settling into the shape of orthodox dogma; while the facts of the great enquiry, numerous as they are, are still chaotic and confused, their collectors insist on working them up into specific doctrines about the future state, and they are often as intolerant of any dissent from these doctrines as the old-fashioned religionists were of them.

In fact, they have done the very thing which The Spiritualist, with an inaptitude born of complete misapprehension of what occult science really is, now accuses us of having done—they have given themselves wholly over to "speculation-spinning." It is fairly ludicrous to find this indictment laid at our door on account of our "Fragments." The argument of that paper was to the effect that spiritualists should not jump to conclusions, should not weave hasty theories, on the strength of séance-room experiments. Such and such appearances may present themselves; beware of misunderstanding them. You may see an apparition standing before you which you know to be perfectly genuine, that is to say, no trumpery imposture by a fraudulent medium, and it may wear the outward semblance of a departed friend, but do not on that account jump to the conclusion that it is the spirit of your departed friend, do not spin speculations from the filmy threads of any such delusive fabric. Listen first to the wisdom of the ancient philosophies in regard to such appearances, and permit us to point out the grounds on which we deny what seems to be the plain and natural inference from the facts. And then we proceeded to explain what we have reason to know is the accepted theory of profound students of the ancient philosophy. We were repeating doctrines as old as the pyramids, but The Spiritualist, not having hitherto paid attention to them, seems really to imagine that we have thrown them off on the spur of the moment as a hypothesis, as Figuier does with his conjectures in The Day after Death, or Jules Verne with his, in his Voyage Round the Moon. We cannot, it is true, quote any printed edition of the ancient philosophies, and refer the reader to chapter and verse, for an article on the seven principles; but assuredly all profound students of mystic literature will recognize the exposition on which we ventured, as supported, now in one way, now in another, by the cautiously obscure teaching of occult writers. Of course, the conditions of occult study are so peculiar that nothing is more difficult than to give one's "authorities" for any statement connected with it, but none the less is it really just as far from being "up in a balloon" as any study can be. It has been explained repeatedly that the continuity of occult knowledge amongst initiated adepts is the attribute about it which commends their explanations—absolutely to the acceptance of those who come to understand what initiation means, and what kind of people adepts are. From Swedenborg onwards there have been many seers who profess to gather their knowledge of other worlds from actual observation, but such persons are isolated, and subject to the delusions of isolation. Any intelligent man will have an intuitive perception of this, expressing itself in a reluctance on his part to surrender himself entirely to the assurances of any such clairvoyants. But in the case of regularly initiated seers it must be remembered that we are dealing with a long—an extraordinarily long—series of persons who, warned of the confusing circumstances into which they pass when their spiritual perceptions are trained to range beyond material limits, are so enabled to penetrate to the actual realities of things, and who constitute a vast organized body of seers, who check each other's conclusions, test each other's discoveries and formulate their visions into a science of spirit as precise and entirely trustworthy as, in their humble way, are the conclusions, as far as they go, of any branch of physical science. Such initiates are in the position, as regards spiritual knowledge, that the regularly taught professor of a great university is in, as regards literary knowledge, and anyone can appreciate the superior claims of instruction which might be received from him, as compared with the crude and imperfect instruction which might be offered by the merely self- taught man. The initiate's speculations, in fact, are not spun at all; they are laid out before him by the accumulated wisdom of ages, and he has merely followed, verified and assimilated them.

But, it may be argued, if our statement about the teachings of this absolutely trustworthy occult science claims to be something more than assertion and hypothesis, it is an assertion, and, for the world at large, an hypothesis, that any such continuously-taught body of initiates is anywhere in existence. Now, in reference to this objection, there are two observations to be made. Firstly, that there is a large mass of writings to be consulted on the subject, and just as spiritualists say to the outer world, "if you read the literature of spiritualism, you will know how preposterous it is to continue denying or doubting the reality of spiritual phenomena," so we say to spiritualists, "if you will only read the literature of occultism it will be very strange if you still doubt that the continuity of initiation has been preserved." Secondly, we may point out that you may put the question about the existence of initiates altogether aside, and yet find in the philosophy of occultism, as expounded by those who do labour under the impression that they have received their teaching from competent instructors, such inherent claims to intellectual adoption, that it will be strange if you do not begin to respect it as an hypothesis. We do not say that the "Fragments" given in our October number constitute a sufficiently complete scheme of things to command conviction, in this way, on their own intrinsic merits, but we do say that even taken by themselves they do not offend intuitive criticism in the way that the alternative spiritual theory does. By degrees, as we are enabled to bring out more ore from the mine which yielded the "Fragments," it will be found that every fresh idea presented for consideration fits in with what has gone before, fortifies it, and is fortified by it in turn. Thus, is it not worth notice that even some notes we published in our December number in answer to enquiries about creation, help the mind to realize the way in which, and the materials with which, the elementaries in the one case, in the other the automatically acting Kâma Rûpa of the medium, may fashion the materialized apparition which the spiritualist takes for the spirit of his departed friend? It sometimes happens that a materialized spirit will leave behind as a memento of his visit some little piece cut from his spiritual (?) drapery. Does the spiritualist believe that the bit of muslin has come from the region of pure spirit from which the disembodied soul descends? Certainly no philosophically minded spiritualist would, but if as regards the drapery such a person would admit that this is fashioned from the cosmic matter of the universe by the will of the spirit which makes this manifest (accepting our theory so far), does it not rationally follow that all the "material" of the materialized visitor must probably be also so fashioned? And in that case, if the will of a spirit without form can produce the particular form which the sitter recognizes as his dead friend, does he not do this by copying the features required from some records to which, as a spirit, he has access; and, in that case again, is it not clear that some other spirit would equally have that power? Mere reflection, in fact, on the principles of creation will lead one straight to a comprehension of the utter worthlessness of resemblance in a materialized spirit, as a proof of identity.

Again, the facts of spiritual experience itself fortify the explanation we have given. Is it not the case that most spiritualists of long experience—omitting the few circumstanced in the very peculiar way that "M.A. Oxon." is, who are not in pursuit of dead friends at all—are always reduced sooner or later to a state of absolute intellectual exasperation by the unprogressive character of their researches. How is it that all these twenty years that spiritualists have been conversing with their departed friends their knowledge of the conditions of life in the next world is either as hazy still as the rambling imagination of a pulpit orator, or, if precise at all, grotesquely materialistic in its so-called spirituality? If the spirits were what the spiritualists think them, is it not obvious that they must have made the whole situation more intelligible than it is—for most people—whereas, if they are, what we affirm that they are really, is it not obvious that all they could do is exactly what they have done?

But, to conclude for the present, surely there need be no hostility, as some spiritual writers seem to have imagined, between the spiritualists and ourselves, merely because we bring for their consideration a new stock of ideas—new, indeed, only as far as their application to modern controversies is concerned, old enough as measured by the ages that have passed over the earth since they were evolved. A gardener is not hostile to roses because he prunes his bushes and proclaims the impropriety of letting bad shoots spring up from below the graft. With the spiritualists, students of occultism must always have bonds of sympathy which are unthought of in the blatant world of earth-bound materialism and superstitious credulity. Let them give us a hearing; let them recognize us as brother-worshippers of truth, even though found in unexpected places. They cannot prove so oblivious of their own traditions as to refuse audience to any new plea, because it may disturb them in a faith they find comfortable. Surely it was not to be comfortable that they first refused to swim with the stream in matters of religious thought, and deserted the easy communion of respectable orthodoxy. Will spiritualism conquer incredulity only to find itself already degraded into a new church, sinking, so to speak, into armchairs in its second childhood, and no longer entitled to belief or vigorous enough for further progress? It is not a promising sign about a religious philosophy when it looks too comfortable, when it promises too indulgent an asylum for our speckled souls with houris of the Mohammedan Elysium, or the all too homelike society of the spiritualist's "Summer-land." We bring our friends and brethren in spiritualism no mere feather-headed fancies, no light-spun speculation, when we offer them some toil-won fragments of the mighty mountain of occult knowledge, at the base of whose hardly accessible heights we have learned to estimate their significance and appreciate their worth. Is it asked why we do not spread out the whole scroll of this much-vaunted philosophy for their inspection at once, and so exhibit clearly its all-sufficing coherence? That question at least will hardly be asked by thoughtful men who realize what an all-sufficient philosophy of the universe must be. As well might Columbus have been expected to bring back America in his ships to Spain. "Good friends, America will not come," he might have said, "but it is there across the waters, and if you voyage as I have done, and the waves do not smother you, mayhap you will find it too."

H. P. Blavatsky


From "A Modern Panarion"


Articles by HPB

To the Editor of "The Spiritual Scientist."

DEAR SIR,—In advices just received from St. Petersburg I am requested to translate and forward to The Scientist for publication the protest of the Hon. Alexander Aksakoff, Imperial Counsellor of State, against the course of the professors of the University respecting the Spiritualistic investigation. The document appears, in Russian, in the Vedomostji, the official journal of St. Petersburg.

This generous, high-minded, courageous gentleman has done the possible, and even the impossible, in order to open the spiritual eyes of those incurable moles who fear the daylight of truth as the burglar fears the policeman's bull's-eye.

The heartfelt thanks and gratitude of every Spiritualist ought to be forwarded to this noble defender of the cause, who regretted neither his time, trouble nor money to help the propagation of the truth.


New York, April 19th, 1876.*

* See Appendix, "A. Aksakoff's Protest."


Support this site by visiting our donation page
Site copyright © 1996- by Estela Carson-Priede